Tennis Rules and Terms

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Simple Tennis Rules

Server and Receiver
The players shall stand on opposite sides of the net; the player who first delivers the ball shall be called the Server, and the other the Receiver.

Choice of Sides and Service
The choice of sides and the right to be Server or Receiver in the first game shall be decided by toss. If the winner of the toss chooses the right to be Server or Receiver, his opponent shall have the choice of sides. If the winner of the toss takes the choice of sides, his opponent shall have the right to be Server or Receiver.

How Service is Delivered
The service shall be delivered in the following manner: Immediately before commencing to serve, the Server shall stand with both feet at rest behind the base line, and within the imaginary continuation of the center mar k and side line of the singles court in singles play, or the side line of the doubles court in doubles play.

The Receiver may stand wherever he pleases on his own side of the net. However, he must allow the ball to hit the ground before returning service.

The server shall then throw the ball into the air and strike it with his racket before it hits the ground. Delivery shall be deemed complete at the moment the racket strikes the ball.

Two serves are allowed if first serve is unsuccessful.

Service Delivered From Alternate Courts
In delivering the service, the Server shall stand alternately behind the right and left courts, beginning from the right in every game. The ball served shall pass over the net and hitthe ground within the servicecourt which is diagonally earlier, or upon any line bounding such court, before the Receiver returns it. If there is any doubt, it is customary for the Receiver to determinewhether the service is good or not. If the ball is erroneously served from the wrong half of the court, the resulting play shall sand, but service from the proper court shall be resumed immediately after discovery of the eroor.


The Service is a fault if :

a) the Server swings at and misses the ball in attempting to serve it.

b) If the ball does not land in the proper service court.

c) If the ball touches a permanent fixture other than the net, strap, or band.

Service After A Fault
After a fault (if it is the first fault) the Server shall serve again from behind the same fhalf of the court from which he served that fault, unless it was a fault because he served from behind the wrong half, when he shall be entitle to deliver one service from behind the other half. A fault may not be claimed after the next service has been delivered.

Ball Not To Be Served until Receiver is Ready
The Server shall not serve until the Receiver is ready.  If the latter attempts to return the service, he shall be deemed ready.


During the service, a  ball that touches the net but lands in the proper court is termed a "let" and counts nothing, another service is delivered.  If the ball touches the net when going into the proper court during a rally, it is good.  There is not limit to the number of let balls that may be made on the service, and the Server continues serving in the same court until a good service is delivered or two faults are made.

Foot Fault Rule

The Server shall throughout the delivery of the service---

a)      Not change his position by walking or running.

b)      Keep both feet behind the baseline when starting to serve.

c)      Jumping off the ground in hitting a serve is not considered a foot fault. Server's feet may swing over the base line but not touch the ground before the ball is hit.

When Receiver Becomes Server

At he end of the first service game the Receiver shall become the Server, and the Server Receiver; and so on alternately in all the subsequent games of a match.  If a player serves out of turn, the player who ought to have served shall serve as soon as the mistake is discovered.  All points scored shall count.

When Player Loses Point

A player loses the point if -----

a)      He fails before the ball in play has hit the ground twice consecutively, to return it directly over the net; or

b)       He returns the ball in play so that it hits the ground, a permanent fixture, or other object, outside any of the lines which bound his opponent's court; or

c)      He volleys the ball and fails to make a good return even when standing outside the court; or

d)      He touches or strikes the ball in play with his racket more than once in making a stroke; or

e)      He or his racket or anything which he wears or carries, touches he net, or the ground within his opponent's court at any time while the ball is in play; or

f)        He volleys the ball before it has passed the net; or

g)      The ball touches him or anything he wears or carries, except his racket in his hands or

h)      He throws his racket at and hits the ball.

When Server Wins Point

The Server wins the point if the ball served, having cleared the net without

touching it, touches the Receiver or anything which he wears or before it hits

the ground.

When Receiver Wins Point

The Receiver winsthe point if the Server serves two consecutive faults.

Ball Falling on Line is Good and In Court

A ball falling on a line is regarded as falling in the court.  It is

customary for each player to make the calls on all balls hit to his side

of the net.

A Good Return

It is a good return----

(a) If the ball touches the net, posts, cord or metal cable, strap or band,

provided that it passes over any of them and hits the ground within the court;

(b) If the ball, served or returned, hits the ground within the proper court and \rebounds or is blown back over the net, and the player whose turn it is to strike reaches over the net and plays the ball, prvided that neither he nor any part of his clothes or racket touches the net

(c) If the ball is returned from outside the post, either above or below the

level of the top of the net, provided it hits the ground within the proper court

(d) If a player's racket passes over the net after he has returned the ball,

provided the ball passes the net before being played and is properly returned,

(e) If a player succeeds in returning theball, serve or in play, which strikes a ball lying in the court

LET or Interference

If a player while the ball is in play is interfered with by gallery/player , by a ball coming into the court or by any disturbance not within his control, a let shall be called and the point replayed

If a player wins his first point his score is 15; on winning the second point 30; on inning his third point is 40; on winning his fourth point he has won the game, except as follows:

If both players have won three points, the score is called Deuce; and the next poing is scored Advantage for thatplayer.  If the same player wins the next point, he wins the game; if the other player wins the next point, the score is called Deuce; and son on, until a player wins the two points immediately following the score at Deuce, when the games is scored for that players.

Theword "love" is generally used in tennis to mean zero or No points, games or sets won by a players.  If calling the score, the Server's score is given first.  Example:  30-love means two points for Server, none for Receiver.

The USTA has adopted a choice for scoring

Regular Scoring'

No Add Scoring'

No add scoring results in the first player to win 4 points in a game. If the game is tied at 3-3 in points, the receiver has the choice for which side to take the serve.

How Winner of SET  is Decided
The player who first wins six games wins a Set, except as follows;  If both players have won five games,  a player won have to win two games in sucession in order to win the set at 7-5.  At 6games-all a 12 point tiebreaker is played, with first player to win 7 points by margin of 2 points.

When Players Change Sides
The players shall change sides after the first game and every two games thereafter.



Play is usually a three set match, with first to win two sets the winner.

There are several other methods

8-game Pro Set----First to win 8 games by two wins the match

10 game Pro Set----First to win 10 games by two games wins the match.

A tie-breaker( 12 pt)   is played at 8-games all  or 10-games all.

The Doubles Game
Order of Service
The Pair who have to serve first in   the first game of each set shall decide which partner shall do so, and the other pair shall decide similarly.  The partner of the player who served the first game shall serve in the third game  The order of service having been decided shall not be altered in the set, but it may be changed at the beginning of a new set.

Order of Receiving
The pair who have to receive service in the first game of each set shall decide which partner will receive the first service. Parners shall receive the service alternately throughout each game and the order will not be altered during the set, but may be changed at the beginning of a new set.

Tennis court, Racket, Ball

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